Protecting What
Matters Most


Most people complain about the cost of their auto insurance--hardly surprising, given that a typical policy costs at least several hundred dollars a year. Depending on your age, driving record, and other factors, your annual premium can be significantly more than that. So how can you lower your premium and save yourself money?

If you own a car and drive it, going without insurance is generally not an option. In most states, you are required by law to purchase a minimum amount of liability coverage. And you should probably have more than just the bare minimum if you want to provide yourself with adequate protection. There are steps you can take, however, to reduce your auto insurance costs without having to cancel your policy. Some or all of these steps may be appropriate for you, depending on your circumstances.
One of your first steps should be to shop around. A particularly good time to investigate your alternatives is when your current policy is up for renewal, especially if you find that your premium has gone up. You may be surprised to learn that auto insurance premiums for the exact same coverage on the same car can vary widely (by hundreds of dollars) between different insurers, even in states that regulate auto insurance rates.
For many people, raising the deductible on their auto insurance is a good way to cut the cost of the policy. Sometimes you can reduce your annual premium by 10 percent or more if you increase your deductible from, say, $250 to $500. If you do this, however, make sure you have the financial resources to handle the larger deductible when the time comes.
One seemingly obvious solution is to eliminate certain types of coverage from the policy. Most states require you to have liability coverage in most states, but other non-mandatory coverages may be expendable. Be careful, though, because you don't want to be underinsured if you're in an accident. Even though medical payments, uninsured motorist, collision, and comprehensive coverages may be optional in some states, it's usually not advisable to get rid of them altogether. If you drive an older car worth less than $1,000, it may be cost-effective to drop collision and comprehensive coverage. The rationale is that even if the vehicle were severely damaged in an accident, the amount the insurer would pay for its repair or replacement would be relatively small. In some cases, the amount you'd receive might not even cover the costs of the premiums and the deductible.
You can also reduce the amounts of certain coverages. Be very careful here. You don't want to be inadequately insured, especially in the area of liability. You should almost always keep your liability coverage at as high a level as possible because this is where you can have the greatest losses. You may be able to lower your coverage amounts in other areas (such as collision and comprehensive), but don't rush into such a decision just to save a few bucks. The costs could far outweigh the savings. Talk it over with a licensed agent first.
Your credit history is an important factor for most auto insurance companies. Many studies have shown a correlation between your credit history and the risk to an insurance company. Paying your bills on time and maintaining a good credit history will allow you to enjoy lower auto insurance rates.
If you drive less than a certain number of miles in a year (e.g., 7,500), you may qualify for a low-mileage discount. If your insurer offers this discount, try to limit your driving as much as possible. If you commute to work, use public transportation instead of driving. When you go away on vacation, fly or take the train.
Since work-related driving generally subjects you to a higher premium than pleasure driving, it may be in your best interest to stop using your car for business purposes.
You may be eligible for a price break on your policy if you maintain a clean driving record for a specified period (usually three years). A clean driving record generally means no accidents, serious moving violations, drunk driving convictions, etc., during that period. The best way to qualify for the applicable discount is to drive carefully and defensively at all times.
Cars are rated on a risk scale for auto insurance purposes. In general, sports cars and other high-performance, flashy vehicles are classified as higher risks because they are common targets for thieves and vandals, and because statistically, the people who own them tend to drive more recklessly. If you own such a vehicle, you will likely pay a higher premium than if you owned a station wagon, sedan, or other low-risk vehicle.
If you live in a rural community with little crime and traffic congestion, your premium will generally be lower than if you live in an urban area where your car is more likely to be stolen, vandalized, or involved in an accident. Granted, you shouldn't move just to cut your auto insurance costs. However, this may be one of many factors in your decision if you're thinking about relocating from the country to the city.
Cars parked in garages are less likely to be stolen, vandalized, or struck by other vehicles. Using a garage to store your car may entitle you to a slight premium reduction.
You may receive discounts on your insurance if your car is equipped with one or more of the following options: anti-lock brakes, automatic seat belts, and airbags. Similarly, anti-theft devices such as car alarms and tracking systems (e.g., Lojack) may also get you a discount because they reduce the chances of your car being stolen or vandalized.
You may receive a discount from your insurance company if you buy more than one type of insurance through that same company (e.g., auto and homeowner's). A discount may also apply to your auto insurance if you insure multiple cars under the same policy or with the same company.
Other discounts may be available if you meet certain criteria. Examples may include discounts for taking a defensive driving course, being a AAA member or staying with the same auto insurance company for a number of years. These discounts vary by company.
Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline